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Housing Associations (Right to Buy)

Mr. Wood: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what plans he has to extend the right to buy scheme to housing associations. [29651]

Ms Keeble: We have no plans to extend the right to buy scheme further to housing association tenants.

Pre-1988 secure tenants of non-charitable housing associations already have a right to buy and tenants of former local authority stock which has transferred to registered social landlords have a preserved right to buy. In addition, under the Housing Act 1996, eligible tenants of registered social landlords have a right to acquire their rented home.

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Deep Vein Thrombosis

John Barrett: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions, pursuant to his answer to the hon. Member for Vale of Glamorgan (Mr. Smith) of 16 January 2002, Official Report, columns 336–37W, if he will require UK airline companies to supply copies of the Government's pamphlet, "Advice on Travel Related Deep Vein Thrombosis", to passengers on long distance flights. [29805]

Mr. Jamieson: UK airlines are aware of the health advice recently published by the Government and I understand they are using a variety of means to communicate that information to their passengers. At present the Government have no plans to require the airlines to provide health information in a specific format, but we are in contact with them to ensure that they provide their passengers with relevant advice in the most appropriate form, particularly that relating to deep vein thrombosis.

Railway Signals

Mr. Cameron: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions how many signals on railways in (a) Britain and (b) Oxfordshire are illuminated by oil lamps; and if he will make a statement. [29738]

Mr. Jamieson: This information is not held centrally.

Exchange Rates

Mr. Edwards: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what sterling to euro exchange rate applies on tolls at the (a) Severn bridges, (b) Dartford crossing, (c) Humber crossing, (d) Mersey tunnels, (e) Tamar bridge and (f) Tyne tunnels. [29910]

Mr. Jamieson: There are currently no legal requirements for any of the mentioned undertakings to accept any currency other than sterling. Therefore, exchange rates are not fixed and are subject to change at the operators' discretion.

Where they do accept payment in euros, each of the undertakings has a different method for working out the toll charged. Our calculation of the equivalent charges is:

Euro to £1
(a) Severn bridges1.67
(b) Dartford crossings1.85
(c) Humber bridge1.88
(d) Mersey tunnels(18)
(e) Tamar bridge1.6
(f) Tyne tunnel1.67

(18) Euros currently not accepted.

Rail Incident (Abergavenny)

Mr. Edwards: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what investigations are to be undertaken into the incident on the railway line between Abergavenny and Cwmbran on 17 January; and if he will make a statement. [30160]

24 Jan 2002 : Column 1045W

Mr. Jamieson: A Railway Inspector from the Health and Safety Executive's Railway Inspectorate (HMRI) is investigating the circumstances of the rail incident at Abergavenny on 18 January.

Transport Provision

Dr. Kumar: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what effort he has made to ensure that service providers, employers and public transport users are involved in determining what constitutes adequate transport provision (a) in the UK and (b) in Teesside. [29972]

Mr. Jamieson: The Department issues many draft policy documents, consultation papers, revisions to regulations and guidance on transport, inviting comments and suggestions from all interested parties. For example, the Department is currently consulting on "Powering Future Vehicles: Draft Government Strategy" with responses due by 1 March 2002.

In addition, local authorities have produced five-year local transport plans in accordance with guidance issued by the Secretary of State. This guidance provides for full consultation at the local level. This applies equally to Teesside as it does to all English local authorities.

In accordance with Planning Policy Guidance No. 11, regional planning bodies are required to produce regional transport strategies, again with full participation and consultation with all interested parties.

The Department complies with the Cabinet Office code of practice on written consultation, which came into effect in January 2001. The code aims to increase the involvement of people and groups in public consultations, minimising the burden it imposes on them, and giving them a proper time—a standard minimum period of 12 weeks—to respond.

Housing (Solihull)

Mr. John Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions whether the anticipated density of the Cala Homes development in Solihull (appeal reference: APP/Q4625/AOI/1065304) exceeds the density recommended in PPG 3. [29902]

Ms Keeble: The appeal by Cala Homes (Reference APP/Q4625/A/01/1065304) related to an application for 78 apartments on a site of about one hectare at Church Hill road and Whitefields road, close to the town centre of Solihull. Paragraph 57 of PPG3 stresses that local planning authorities should avoid the inefficient use of land. The second bullet point of paragraph 58 states that local planning authorities should encourage development which makes more efficient use of land (between 30 and 50 dwellings per hectare net) and the third bullet point advises authorities to seek greater intensity of development at places with good public transport accessibility such as city, town, district and local centres or around major nodes along good quality public transport corridors.

The inspector allowing the appeal by a decision dated 31 December 2001 judged the site to be one to which the third bullet point applies. Consequently, the density would not exceed that recommended in PPG3.

24 Jan 2002 : Column 1046W

Driving Standards Agency

Mr. Barnes: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions how many appeals have been received by the DSA over the past two years against the refusal to grant second trainee licences; how many of these have been (a) successful, (b) unsuccessful and (c) are still pending; and of those appeals which have been unsuccessful, if he will place in the Library a list of grounds on which appeals have been rejected. [30187]

Mr. Jamieson: In the two years ending 31 December 2001, there were 387 appeals made against the registrar's decision to refuse a second trainee licence; 282 cases were withdrawn by the appellant before the appeal was determined, generally because the appellant had completed the qualifying process before the appeal was considered; and 24 cases are still pending.

In the remaining 81 cases, independent Appeals Boards recommended to the Secretary of State refusing the applications, citing one of two grounds for dismissing appeals. These were accepted by the Secretary of State.

The first ground was that the purpose of a trainee licence was to afford a reasonable opportunity—normally six months—to prepare for the third part of the qualifying examination via experience working as an instructor. A trainee licence was not an alternative to registration, and must not be allowed to become so.

The second ground was that the appellant had failed a third attempt at the third part of the qualifying examination, therefore the person would need to start the qualifying process from the beginning, and was not eligible to hold a trainee licence.

Agriculture Industry

Mr. Breed: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what steps his Department is taking to improve health and safety within the agricultural industry; and if he will make a statement. [29998]

Dr. Whitehead: The Government and the Health and Safety Commission have set national targets for reducing work-related deaths, injury and ill health in Great Britain. The Commission has selected the agricultural industry as a priority programme where improvements are needed if the national targets are to be met.

Details of the agriculture priority programme and the Health and Safety Commission and Executive's Programme of Work for improving health and safety in the agricultural sector are set out in the Commission's Strategic Plan 2001–04. Copies can be found in the Library of the House.

Widford Bridge (Chelmsford)

Mr. Burns: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions (1) what assessment he has made of the adequacy of the space to allow cars access that are under the weight restriction on the Widford Bridge in Chelmsford with respect to avoiding (a) undue hazard to motorists and (b) possible damage to vehicles; [29666]

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Mr. Jamieson: The Widford Bridge is situated on the old A12 (now A1114) through Chelmsford. Chelmsford borough council manage the road on behalf of the Highway Authority, Essex county council, although pending its replacement, the bridge remains the responsibility of the Highways Agency.

Because the bridge's condition has deteriorated, the agency has had to restrict to three tonnes the weight of vehicles using it. To achieve this, vehicle widths are restricted to 6 ft 6 in. The signing arrangements were designed for the borough council by the agency's design agents. The programming of the work to implement the width restriction and the installation of advance and permanent signing on the local road network are being organised by the borough council. All work is being carried out by the borough council's contractors although the Highways Agency is paying for it.

A scheme to replace the bridge is currently expected to start in autumn 2003. The cost, which will be borne by the agency, is expected to be about £4.5 million. Given the large amount of detailed design and preparation work that needs to take place, and also taking into account the long lead in time necessary to carry out work over a busy railway line, this is the earliest date work can start.

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